Conservation Update 2019 Jul | Esperanza; NEWPORT BEACH: DUNE VEGETATION
LITIGATION: ESPERANZA, AGAIN!
CNPS is once again a co-appellant in a new appeal re the proposed Esperanza Hills development. The development plan calls for 340 executive homes to be carved into 470 steeply hilly unincorporated acres between the City of Yorba Linda and Chino Hills State Park.
This appeal is the latest in the ongoing legal battle between Yorba Linda community group Protect Our Homes and Hills (POHAH), et al, on one side, and the County of Orange and real party in interest, Yorba Linda Estates LLC, on the other. The basic issue is whether or not the County is compliant with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in relation to the proposed development.
CNPS has been among the co-petitioners/appellants on each of the previous suits. Our participation has been due to:
1. The project’s proposed impacts to the site’s natural habitat:
- Extirpation of the site’s populations of Braunton’s Milkvetch (Astragalus brauntonii, CRPR 1B.1) and Intermediate Mariposa Lily (Calochortus weedii intermedius, CRPR 1B.2).
- Severe impacts to the site’s stands of Walnut Woodland and Oak Woodland.
- Another bite being taken out of the already-patchy wildlife corridor formed by open spaces in the Chino Hills.
- The markedly insufficient mitigations proposed for these impacts.
2. The principle that jurisdictions should abide by their own rules, and/or the rules that they’re supposed to abide by, such as CEQA. That principle is once again being flouted in the continuing saga of Esperanza. Upholding that principle is at least as important as defending the native plants of a site.
NEWPORT BEACH: DUNE VEGETATION, WESTERN SNOWY PLOVER, SANTA ANA RIVER MOUTH
OCCNPS is one of 11 OC enviro groups that have co-signed a very comprehensive comment letter, written by biological consultant Robb Hamilton, to the City of Newport Beach. The letter analyses in detail the CEQA and Coastal Act inadequacies in the City’s Draft Plan for its shoreline Endangered Species Habitat Area (ESHA).
Newport Beach’s ESHA includes Western Snowy Plover (WSP) resting/nesting habitat at both the southerly end of the Balboa Peninsula and at the Santa Ana River mouth (SAR). WSP, small shore birds, are listed as Threatened, thus fall under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
The WSP/SAR/ESHA issue is mainly about access to the beach for humans and their dogs, and how to keep that access from overwhelming the ESHA and the WSP. An alphabet soup of jurisdictions and agencies are involved in a complex of legal and social and, ultimately, economic aspects of the situation.
OCCNPS’ interest in the situation is the health of the dune/coastal strand vegetation. A surprising amount is still there despite many years of disturbance by humans and dogs. We are glad that the WSP find a home in the vegetation.
Our interest is also to, again, uphold the principle that agencies and jurisdictions should abide by their own rules, and/or the rules that they’re supposed to abide by, such as CEQA and the Coastal Act. Upholding that principle remains at least as important as defending the native plants of a site.
— Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair